Bill Wheelhouse

Anchor/ Economy Blog

Major cuts are coming to Springfield's Benedictine University.    The school is laying off three quarters of its full time employees, cutting out undergraduate education and getting rid of its sports programs.  The school will no longer focus on the traditional student market, but instead will make its focus on adults.    The campus issued a statement last night.    Springfield branch campus President Michael Bromberg tells WUIS that 75 of the 100 full time workers will be laid-off next year when the school ends its traditional programs for students who are just out of high school.

In this week's Business Report Tim Landis discusses a chain establishment leaving town, the future of a Route 66 landmark and work is set to begin on an historic site.

Illinois had one of the stronger showings in the nation in new jobs last month and it led the way nationally with a a 2.5% drop in unemployment from September of last year to September of this year.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Illinois added more than 19,000 jobs last month, marking the second largest increase in the nation. 

Illinois trailed only Texas in month over month employment.

The biggest gains came in  professional and business services.   That includes more accounting jobs which have increased in the Chicago area.  

Notes On The Final Governor Debate

Oct 21, 2014
wttw Chicago Tonight

The debate portion of the Illinois governor’s race is over. Monday night's debate may have given voters a little clarity.

Now - that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any mud-slinging or repetitive campaign refrains. There was a lot of that. But we did get some answers on issues that have popped up in all three debates. Like what Governor Pat Quinn would do when the 5 percent income tax rate ends in 2015.

QUINN: We need to maintain the income tax, at the same time give annual, direct, property tax relief - a 500 dollar refund - to every single homeowner in this state.

abrahamlincolnonline.org

The man who ran the school during Abraham Lincoln's time in New Salem is getting an honor in Kentucky.

A historical marker commemorating the life of an early 19th century educator who was a longtime friend of Abraham Lincoln will be unveiled next week in Greensburg, KY.  

The Kentucky Historical Society says the marker is in honor of William Mentor Graham, who was born in Green County and taught at Greensburg Academy before moving to Illinois. There he taught Lincoln arithmetic and grammar, and Lincoln lived with Graham for six months in 1833.  

SJ-R.com

A project in downtown Springfield that was to revitalize a former church is now in the courtroom.  Tim Landis of the State Journal Register discusses that and some of the week's other stories.

Amanda Vinicky

A Chicago attorney and anti-corruption campaigner is stressing that a court-appointed monitor is needed to ensure the state's Department of Transportation is in compliance with political hiring bans.  

Michael Shakman's filing Monday in federal court comes in response to a motion by Gov. Pat Quinn's attorneys that the governor's administration's response to allegations of political hiring in the department had been both ``prompt'' and ``appropriate.''  

Chase

James Glassman, Head Economist, Commercial Bank, JP Morgan Chase says the economic recovery is better than many people think.   Speaking at the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce's Economic Outlook Breakfast, Glassman said this recovery is "in the fifth inning".  

Glassman says there are still two groups that haven't felt the recovery.  Those who are "involuntary" part time workers and students.   

WSIU

Brian Gaines has watched Illinois politics for 20 years.  The political scientist is with the University of Illinois's Institute for Government and Public Affairs. He says the current system of drawing legislative and congressional maps is bad and he hopes reformers can do something before the next re-map in 2020.

Gaines says there is too little transparency and too few people are involved.  The current map for Illinois' congressional district he says was created to help Democrats.   He says the public is not well served by maps that engineer outcomes. 

Macon County

Election officials say there are two days left for regular voter registration ahead of Nov. 4.  

Illinois residents who have a driver's license or state ID can register online through the State Board of Elections website through Tuesday.  

Starting Wednesday, voters have a chance to participate in ``grace period'' registration until Nov. 3.

The process will be a little different for those registering late. Residents must present two forms of identification to election officials in person. One of these forms must include a current address.  

ill.gov

The chairman of the foundation behind the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says fundraising is drying up because of tensions between the library's executive director and the director of the state agency that oversees it.  

Wayne Whalen told a legislative panel Wednesday that the foundation has heard from numerous donors who don't plan on contributing money until problems are resolved. The foundation raised $4.7 million last year and has raised about $3.2 million so far this year.  

Decatur's unemployment rate showed the biggest drop in the nation from a year ago. However that does not mean more people are working.

The jobless rate in Decatur is tied for the highest in the state with Rockford,  but the drop of  3.1% was the biggest decrease in the nation according to the federal agency that monitors such things.  

SJ-R.com

An area coal company says 300 jobs are a stake in Logan County.  Tim Landis, Business Editor of the State Journal Register discusses that and Jimmy John's response to a security breach.

Indiana Public Media

A new study shows local businesses are optimistic about the local economy. 

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce is out with its annual economic outlook.   It shows more than 80 percent of local businesses surveyed are increasingly optimistic about their own firm and that of the overall Sangamon county economy.   

IKEA

IKEA is recalling its GUNGGUNG child swing that it sold at its stores this summer.

The furniture retailer says the suspension fittings can break causing a child to fall from the swing, posing a risk of serious injury. Four injuries have been reported since the product went on sale in August.

Hartland Township MI

The mayor of Springfield took umbrage to a weekend editorial in the local paper.

The State Journal Register Sunday criticized the city for a lack of a comprehensive sewer program, following housing and street flooding after heavy rains in recent weeks.

Mayor Mike Houston called reporters together to remind them, as he approaches a re-election campaign, that the city is in the midst of a 10 year $60 million dollar borrowing program to fix some of the problem sewer systems.

flickr/loveMeagan

Farm and Business groups have been vocal in their opposition to proposed federal water regulations.  Opponents of the rules say it will turn into regulatory over-reach on the part of the government.    Last week, we talked with the Illinois Farm Bureau about their efforts to kill the regulations.  Today... we hear from supporters of the proposed rules.   WUIS Bill Wheelhouse spoke with John Devine of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

To read differing viewpoints on the proposed rules, check out the following:

flickr/jmorgan

The legislature easily approved a measure in the spring that will raise taxes on some of the largest Illinois businesses.  Apparently they didn't know what they were passing.  Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Paul Merrion of Crain's Chicago Business.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Three models of Kidde brand Smoke and Combination Smoke/CO Alarms are being recalled due to failure of the alarms.

The alarms were sold at Menards and Home Depot among other stores.

More than a million of the items are affected by the recall.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the alarms could fail to alert consumers of a fire or a CO incident following a power outage.

Consumers should contact the company for a replacement.

northwestern.edu

Officials at St. John's hospital say a decision by the SIU School of Medicine to move all Trauma care services to Memorial Medical center happened because St. John's asked SIU for more financial accountability of their services. SIU officials deny that the permanent switch to memorial was connected to St. John's request for the audit.    Dean Olsen reports that claim in Thursday's State Journal Register.

Illinois Farm Bureau

Illinois Business and Farm groups are trying to fight off some new federal water regulations.  The groups claim the regulations will be an over-reach onto farmers private property.   The proposed rules would extend regulations streams and wetlands on farms that connect to other water sources.

Illinois Farm Bureau

The state's business community is lining up with farm groups in an effort to stave off some new federal water regulations.  

The Illinois Farm Bureau has the backing the of manufacturers and the state Chamber of Commerce as it works to derail proposed rules. Rules it says would lead to the Feds getting more of a say in how farm land is used.  

WBEZ

Entrepreneurs wanting to cultivate or dispense medical marijuana under a new Illinois law are getting their chance to be considered.  

The state on Monday was to begin accepting applications from aspiring cultivation centers and dispensaries vying for one of a limited number of permits.  

A state law enacted last year authorized a four-year pilot project that will expire in 2017, but so far, not a single marijuana seed has been planted. State officials have said the first products may be sold next year.  

After failing to get on the November ballot,  the Green Party's candidates for Governor and Secretary of State say they will launch a write-in campaign in this fall's election.   That comes less than a decade after the Illinois Greens pulled in enough votes to reach "major party status" in Illinois.
 

 In the 2006  Governors Race,  Judy Baar Topinka was challenging incumbent Rod Blagojevich.      There was also Rich Whitney who ran for Governor as a candidate for the Green Party.  He got more than ten percent of the vote that year.

A Sangamon County judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Illinois from collecting higher health care insurance premiums from retired state employees.

In a 6-to-1 ruling in July, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision allowing the state to require retirees to pay for a portion of their own health care. The court said state-subsidized health insurance is a protected pension benefit and the state cannot charge premiums for it.  

Charities are finding themselves asked to step in to help pay for services and programs that were previously in the government's domain. It seems to be an increasing trend since the economy took a dip several years ago.

Private fundraising for government programs is not necessarily new. State universities have long engaged in fundraising, especially with their alumni and elementary school groups have long held bake sales.

wolfsonian.org

State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

flickr/eggrole

 The new medical marijuana program in Illinois is looking for health professionals and patients to serve on an advisory board.   There is an opportunity for you to get your name on the list of nominees.

The 15-member board will make recommendations about which medical conditions can be added to the list of those approved for medical marijuana use in the state.  

Board members will be appointed by the governor. There is no compensation other than expenses.  

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says not having a term limits measure on November's ballot is a temporary setback.  

He told reporters Sunday he'll ``campaign very aggressively'' on term limits in both his bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn and on behalf of state lawmakers who commit to term limits. A new ad released Sunday focuses on term limits.  

majorenergy.com

 An Illinois watchdog group is celebrating a decision by regulators to launch an investigation of an Orangeburg, New York-based alternative electric supplier.  

The Citizens Utility Board said Wednesday it's pleased the Illinois Commerce Commission adopted a recommendation to investigate Major Energy.  

Consumers have complained about misleading marketing by Major Energy. CUB says the company's rates are the worst it's seen in the Illinois competitive power market.  

Pages